Former President Trump’s legal team will mount its defense Monday in the sprawling civil fraud case targeting his business empire.
His legal team will be able to establish the story of his business dealings and try to prove to a New York judge that he should not have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in financial penalties to the state for defrauding him.
Trump’s team faces an uphill battle, given that Judge Arthur Engoron found the Trump Organization and its executives — including the former president and his adult sons — liable for fraud before the trial began.
The ruling, which New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said proved the gist of her case before presenting it at trial, revoked Trump’s business licenses and put some of his iconic properties at risk . A New York appeals court has put the cancellation of business licenses on hold until it hears Trump’s case.
James’ office wrapped up its case Wednesday — a case defined by high-profile witnesses, dramatic outbursts and a winding paper trail leading to the conclusion that Trump and his company sought lower taxes and better insurance coverage in falsely inflating and deflating the value of their assets. assets.
During cross-examinations and courtroom arguments, Trump’s team laid bare what might happen in the former president’s presentation.
At the heart of the New York attorney general’s filing are Trump’s financial disclosure statements, documents that detail the value of the Trump Organization’s various assets. The financial statements were sent to banks and insurers to secure loans and transactions, which the attorney general says constitutes evidence of fraud.
The former president and his lawyer argued that a disclaimer in the documents — put in place by Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA — exonerates the company of any wrongdoing.
The clause, which Trump also called a “worthless reporting clause,” reads: “Users of this financial statement should recognize that they might reach different conclusions about the financial condition of Donald J. Trump s They had access to a revised financial statement. condition without the above-mentioned exceptions to accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
Trump said Monday that the passage would stand “in any court except maybe this court” and would “last forever.”
“Therefore, you have no proof,” Trump told a state attorney on the witness stand.
The former president brought a printed copy of the clause to his testimony Monday, which he attempted to take out of his pocket to read on the witness stand before Engoron objected. He later posted on Truth Social that the judge refused to allow him to read it “because he doesn’t want anyone to know” about the clause.
In his pretrial ruling, Engoron rejected the defense’s disclaimer argument by noting another part of the passage that says: “Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the statements financial”.
“Mazars’ disclaimers place the responsibility for accuracy squarely on the shoulders of defendants,” Engoron wrote in the order.
For Trump, there is no escaping the financial statements that bear his name. But his three older children, each of whom testified as witnesses in the state’s case, have sought to distance themselves from key documents — an effort that will likely continue throughout the defense’s case.
Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump have each denied any involvement in their father’s financial statements, suggesting they relied on accountants and other experts to ensure the numbers were correct.
Trump’s legal team has sought to shift blame for skewed numbers in Trump and his family’s filings onto the accountants who calculated them. Trump’s former accountant, Donald Bender, testified under cross-examination for nearly a full week at the start of the trial, when Trump’s lawyers sought to paint him as negligent.
At one point, Engoron intervened and said the accountant “is not being judged here.”
“I disagree with that,” said Chris Kise, Trump’s lawyer. “His attention to detail, for which he was paid millions a year – he was a (certified public accountant). He has certain responsibilities.
Engoron did not take kindly to this argument, accusing Trump’s team of “wasting time.”
Another argument that Trump’s legal team has made strongly is that there were “no victims” in the company’s real estate deals. On the witness stand, Trump repeated the familiar assertion that New York’s attorney general had no right to file charges against his company because the banks had not sued him for misrepresentations.
“We’re trying to figure out why you’re doing this?” Trump testified Monday, referring to the trial. “No one understands it. Well, I get it – it’s called politics.
Trump and his lawyers say banks that worked on various real estate deals with the Trump Organization were required to do their “own due diligence” and not rely solely on statements in financial statements provided by the company.
“The banks are checking the work,” Trump said on the witness stand.
An expert witness hired by the New York attorney general’s office testified earlier this month that the Trump Organization’s inflated financial statements may have cost the banks more than $168 million in interest.
However, the state’s filing was notably lacking in testimony from bank officials who worked with the Trumps — or evidence that the banks considered themselves defrauded.
A handful of representatives from Capital One and Deutsche Bank could testify in the state’s rebuttal filing “if necessary,” according to court filings. The most prominent of the appointees is Rosemary Vrablic, who was Trump’s longtime banker in Deutsche Bank’s wealth management division.
Engoron will likely have a bit of a fuss about this claim, having previously criticized Trump’s legal team for invoking “the time loop in the movie ‘Groundhog Day'” with his repeated arguments. The New York judge has already ruled that the attorney general’s office has the authority to sue regardless.
Donald Trump Jr. is expected to take the stand Monday as the defense’s first witness, likely setting the tone for weeks of defense presentations to come. The trial is expected to last until mid-December.
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